Press technologies are continuing to advance. For the direct print market, this means expectations are rising and printers must understand how those technologies can improve business.
Forum 2018 session “Advanced Corrugated Technologies: A Business Case,” chaired by Jack Fulton of Printron and Geoff Roznak of Great Northern Corp, offered a look at some of the latest press technologies for corrugated printers.
Martin Corall, sales manager for Koenig & Bauer North America, was first to speak, discussing what’s new in flexo postprint. He detailed technology, including KBA’s CorruCUT/CorruFlex, he says can achieve perfect registration and maintain both physical strength and structure of a substrate.
Martin explained the general features of the machine, which include: high-quality, post printer, high board line rotary diecutter, high board line, fixed frame, open architecture design, and vacuum transfer between the units by belts.
The vacuum lead edge feeder uses no feed rolls, with a motorized support roller in front of the feed table, as well as a cyclone for exhaust air, sound enclosure, sheet cleaner and laser hopper level control. Eliminating feed rolls results in better ECT and BCT specifications of the printed finished product, Maritn said; it also maintains excellent registration accuracy, can save cost by using lighter paper grades and also have smaller environmental impact.
Martin explained flexo bottom printing in a fixed frame architecture printing press. The top vacuum stacker is a new design with a beater section with motorized layboys, incline deck, bundle builder and more.
“Since we believe diecutting isn’t the only part of equation, we also believe the stacker is intergral part of the diecutting machine,” he commented.
André Göpfert, CEO of Göpfert Maschinen GmbH, was the next presenter, and focused on high graphics in the corrugated direct print market and how it’s changed over the last decade. He discussed factors influencing high-graphic market, high quality postprint and how Göpfert technology can help printers find success in meeting those requirements.
“If you look to your daily life, it’s surrounded by corrugated,” Andre pointed out, going on to explain the industry really started to change in the 1990s when it got “more colorful, but still was pretty basic when compared to today.”
What is the secret of high registration? “First of all, the sheet needs to be transported flat through the machine,” Andre said.
Why flexo direct postprint? Andre noted its ability to print on many different outside or inside liners, print and die cut in one to two steps, machine speed up to 14,000 sheets per hour, use of water-based inks and more.
Tom Phillips, director product line DRO/FFG at Bobst, was the final speaker of the session, and shared Bobst’s new THQ FlexoCloud Technology.
Tom explained that THQ, a technology for postprint on corrugated board, stands for Très Haute Qualité and was developed with partner GRAPHILABEL. He explained THQ is used daily in the web industry but is new in its application to postprint on corrugated board.
Tom said THQ is easy to operate and offers cost decreases due to a reduction of the number of ink references, and lower ink consumption and waste, and can also print on a large range of liners and reduce wash boarding.
“If we look at decorative packaging, it’s a small percentage of the market,” Tom said. “It’s how you create your niche in that marketplace.”
For the last part of the session, the three speakers joined each other onstage and discussed several topics in corrugated posed by session co-chair Geoff, and also addressed audience questions. Geoff first asked the speakers: What does the industry need to work on improving next? Tom mentioned “cleanliness and maintaining the machine,” while Andre said, “I think the standardization is the most important part.”
“We have the ability to do five-minute setups. The machine is capable. We can’t do that, so the makeready has to be done and prepared,” Tom added. “Uptime is everything.”
Another topic of discussion posed by Geoff centered on the continuous, fast improvement of digital and print in terms of quality and speed, and what impact the speakers expect that to have on the future of direct print corrugated.
Andre believes digital could be a nice fit for the industry if it is price competitive, but added “let’s wait and see, because it’s not there yet.”
“I think digital has a place in corrugated,” Tom said. “It’s early, as Andre said, but I think we will see a lot of growth.”
Martin, who said KBA uses a combination of digital and flexo, believes hybrid technology is “on the rise” for corrugated.